8 Tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes (you cannot miss this post).

Singapore is one heck of a humid country, in addition to it being really hot. And this humidity happens almost all year round, especially during the year-end period.

So, why is it so hard to find a comprehensive guide or tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes? We aren’t sure why but we’ve decided to share with you guys our very own tips, after 4 years of dealing with mold & mildew in 2 apartments.

Firstly, what is mold or mildew?

Mold and mildew are a type of fungi. Mold is black or green, and mildew is white or gray (ewuu). Let’s keep the short-form to “M&M.”

Secondly, why do we have mold or mildew in Singapore?

M&M thrive in Singapore’s weather because we are near the equator, surrounded by water, in the path of the monsoon rain patterns, and we are formerly a large swamp.

Thirdly, why is it important for us to keep M&M away?

Let us share with you the factual consequence of having M&M in your home:

  1. Mildew can damage your furniture and home structure.
  2. Mold can cause health problems like allergies, nasal stuffiness, wheezing, skin irritation and respiratory problems.
  3. Mildew can cause coughing, headaches, scratchy throats and lung problems.
  4. People with low immunity or chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.
  5. Scientists found a direct correlation between a high presence of mold in households and depression.
  6. For us, it is just gross and it attracts a bug (albeit harmless) called booklice into your homes. Most Singapore homes have it and you ought to know that they are all females and can breed like no tomorrow if you allow M&M to fester.

This is the gist of it. Enough of the ‘bad news’ and here is the GOOD NEWS! You can control M&M growth in your homes. 🙂

The benefits of having a home with ideal humidity levels:

Yes guys, there ARE benefits!

  1. Lowered risk of damage on your furniture and home structure.
  2. Lessened or no M&M in your home.
  3. This leads to less or no bugs entering and making your home, theirs.
  4. Reduced health problems and chances of aggravating any allergies.
  5. Less toxins in your home = healthier body = less money spent on curing oneself.
  6. A nicer smelling and more pleasant living space.
  7. Generally…a happier you! Because you took responsibility to deal with this issue that many Singaporeans acknowledge but do nothing about, or aren’t even aware of. But it’s okay – that’s why this blog post was written to educate you. 🙂

Tips to keep mold and mildew out of our humid Singapore homes.

Basically…keep all areas of your home as dry as you possibly can. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Monitor the humidity level in your home using a hygrometer.


A healthy humidity level indoors is between 40-50%, and Singapore homes’ humidity levels are generally at 70-80% – which is insane! You can easily buy a hygrometer from Daiso (it may not be 100% accurate but instead serves as a gauge) or from Qoo10

  1. Use drying agents in enclosed spaces like cupboards & drawers.


In Singapore, we commonly refer to it as “Thirsty Hippo” – which is actually a pretty expensive brand alternative. Instead, we purchase ours at Japan Home, Watson’s or Guardian (especially when there’re offers). Remember to check the water-levels in these drying agents frequently and replace it with a new one once it is 95-100% full. It’s also a good gauge to see how humid any particular cupboards/drawers might be in your home (the faster it collects water, the higher the humidity levels). You don’t want silverfish to make these spots their home yeah? Apparently they like humidity levels of 75-95%…ewuuu… 

  1. Invest in a dehumidifier (or make that plural).


We own a total of 1 small and 3 large dehumidifiers in our home – yes, a total of 4. Our area is considered to be rather humid so we do not take any chance. I won’t go into a brand-review here but let’s just say that EuropAce’s dehumidifiers are value for money BUT, their service is practically horrible. However, sad to say, they do provide a relatively stable product. Novita is another brand to consider. Novita is more expensive and their product isn’t as well designed BUT, their service has been pretty good.

We stick to a standard schedule of dehumidifying our homes, which does contribute to slightly higher electricity bill. However, we’d choose this over the doctor’s bill or being unhappy/uncomfortable in our own home. 

(Note: When we turn on the dehumidifiers, we close the windows)

  1. Keep your home airy and ventilated.


Humidity builds up in the air and settles into your stuff at home, if you do not ventilate it often. Turn on your fan as often as you can (use smart-plugs to schedule fan circulation, or low-electricity consumption fans) and keep your windows open as much as possible.

Please remember to keep your storeroom ventilated too!


Also, keep your items aired out too, such as how we air our laundry bags at our service yard, and how we air our magic-clean mop, after spraying it with Dettol after each use.


(Note: When we air our rooms, we do not turn on the dehumidiers)

  1. In the kitchen, air-out your workspace, kitchenware before keeping them & replace kitchen sponges every 2-3 weeks.

Constantly ensure that your workspace and tables are kept dry. The kitchen is a huge wonderland for bugs and M&M if you allow ponding or spills to rest for too long. 


Don’t help to introduce more moisture into your storage areas by keeping ‘almost-dry’ items back in. Give them time to dry out in the airiest/brightest area of your kitchen. Thereafter, give it a good wipe with a microfiber cloth before keeping them.


Also, if you cook often, do replace your kitchen sponges every 10-14 days. If not, every 2-3 weeks. If you own a microwave, you can choose to use it on high heat to kill bacteria/M&M built-up. Sponges are really cheap in Singapore (we get ours at Daiso), so don’t risk your health to keep using one as long as you possibly can. 

  1. In the bathrooms, squeegee the wet areas after each shower, keep your toothbrushes out to air, keep countertops dry & clear out hair-gunk.


It may seem that we are super hardworking in squeegeeing daily, but this really helps to reduce soap scum and stains from building up on the walls/floors/shower screens. This means that we need not deep-clean the bathrooms so often. Simply buy a squeegee from IKEA, Japan Home or Daiso and do a quick squeegee after each use of the bathroom – it’ll become habitual for you in no time.


Mold can grow on your toothbrushes if it isn’t well aired out after each use, so do try to keep them in the open with an avenue to dry. Also, please do not place your toothbrushes near the toilet bowl, and worse…don’t flush with the toilet lid up! Imagine a bacteria party in the air and the after-party on your toothbrushes (and then in your mouth).


And yes, clear out the hair that has collected at your drain after your shower. Unless you love keeping flies and bacteria as pets (you know where we are going with this). We also currently use a drain-filter from Daiso and this does help keep our hair on the surface for ease of cleaning. The wife recently found a Hello-Kitty one too.

  1. During the renovation phase, we chose frosted glass doors & a glass closet.


We are very satisfied with the design of our doors and closet. M&M love to grow in dark and damp areas and this definitely helps us to keep the areas of our home as well-lit as possible.


And of course, we are attracted to clear furniture items too, heh. 

  1. Last but not least, become minimalists.


This is all the make-up the wife owns (though she allows herself multiple MAC lipsticks). We also don’t own a lot of clothes – so we tend to cycle and go through our clothes faster, and our clothes remain fresh. 


In total as a couple, we own less than 15 pairs of shoes (including slippers).

Generally, the lesser things you own means the lesser you have to maintain to keep M&M at bay.

We’d also like to caution you to beware of air-diffusers and candles. These items tend to lend humidity and even toxic soot (trim your wigs) to the air and it’ll negate some of the above tips.

After reading through this entire post, you may feel exhausted at the thought of these ‘additional’ housework but we assure you that:

  • There’ll be less stress to ‘deep-clean’ your home.
  • There’s less of a chance of you finding bugs in your home.
  • You’ll be a healthier and happier you.

We hope this helps and let us know what you think at the comments section!
    

Sources:

Also see: Why did we become minimalists?

 
 
 

 

Kitchen update: Did we stick to being minimalists? (photos included).

It has been 3 months since we have moved in! And this means we have gotten a chance to purchase more items (that we need) and populate our kitchen cabinets. 

You may now be thinking…”these two can’t possibly keep up with minimalism. Stuff WILL accumulate in a matter of time…it happens to everyone…”

We are purposeful not to hoard and to constantly evaluate if we need certain items or not. But you will notice in the upcoming photos that we have multiple items we consider as daily-needs, such as Dettol, haha!

Here’s a somewhat macro view of our kitchen with all our cabinets closed. We love to keep only items we use daily on the counter tops and the rest in the cabinets. As we’ve said before, this makes cleaning so much easier.

Our service yard is kept as clutter free as possible. It’s the place with the most direct sunlight and it holds our buckets to ensure that mold doesn’t built up. This white stool has many uses – 1) holds our laundry basket when we load our washer, 2) allows us to sit and enjoy the view outside, 3) allows the wife to sit at our movable island for meals. It’s also easy to clean – such a great buy. (A post on where we got all our stuff will be drafted soon!)

Our handy step stool is tucked away in a corner so the wife could pull it out quickly to access the upper shelves. And of course, gotta keep those bug-killers accessible and handy too.

Here’s our little pantry / appliance / pots and pans cabinet. There’s always instant noodles and coffee in this home. And the husband recently surprised the wife with an electronic mixer that isn’t too small, but still fits in the cabinet, yay!

Our under-sink area consist of detergents and all kinds of sprays! Whenever we see an offer, we kinda buy in bulk. 😋 But we do use them up pretty fast.

These are all the dishware, containers, cups, disposables and seasoning that we have. It is more than sufficient. 

What does your kitchen look like on the inside and out? 😊

Living in a 8m2 Tokyo Apartment!

[With reference to 2 videos appended below at the end of this post]

This girl here lives in a SUPER TINY 8m2 apartment in Tokyo, Japan. Her name is Emma and she’s a YouTuber from Australia, living in Tokyo.

The average 4-room flat in Singapore is around 90m2 in size. So technically, our home is more than ten times the size of hers! #insane

However, after watching the videos (which we’ve embedded below for your viewing), there’s a part of us that envied her. Well, this 8m2 apartment would definitely work out if the wife lives alone in Tokyo; and a bit of a squeeze for two, but there’s just something magical about living in a small space and making it work.

If you’d want to discuss minimalism, Emma is definitely a minimalist – without even quoting a word of ‘minimalism’ in the first video below.

The simplicity of her life is astounding.

  • She has so little to clean.
  • She gets to live in Japan (hello, our dream).
  • If she ever needs to move, she can pack up in a day.
  • HOW COOL IS HER TOILET.

Of course, there are cons to living in a small space, i.e. you can’t entertain much, you are limited to whatever activities that the space allows for, and you likely can’t own a pet. But this has definitely intrigued us.

Would you ever live in a space like that, even if it’s for a few months? 🙂

 

5 Renovation tips we wish someone had told us.

Some of these advice are those we have applied in our own home renovation, others are discovered along the way, after moving in for more than a few weeks (where the cleaning routine begins).

Even if you are someone who is pretty relaxed about ‘dirt’ at home, or if you have a helper, we hope that these tips would still benefit you in the long run. 🙂

Here are our 5 renovation tips!

  1. Choose larger tiles with less grout-lines/joints or rectified tiles that do not require much grout to keep them joined together. This saves you lots of time scrubbing the dirt that builds up in your grout (sadly, no one on earth is immune to this). We have mosaic tiles at our Genkan area and wish we had chosen larger tiles, so that cleaning is easier. It isn’t a huge regret but it is definitely something worth your consideration.

  1. Get as large a sink as you possibly can! I cannot stress how important this is. Larger sinks allow for more space to soap larger pots/pans, or soap/wash in big batches. Our sink is of a pretty average size for BTOs in Singapore, but we wish we had gotten a sink that’s at least 10cm wider (ours is 70cm-ish). We were initially worried about maximizing counter-top space, but we have more than enough counter space after we had inherited an IKEA movable island on wheels from a dear friend for our kitchen. However, this ‘small’ sink issue is solvable by washing as you go along or having a dishwasher (which isn’t common in Singapore). 
  2. Building on the point of sinks, this tip was given to us by another dear friend who is now living in the States. She told us not to get right-angled (90-degree) corner sinks as scrubbing the food/soap scum from these corners is a painful process. We took her advice and got ourselves a rounded-corner sink and we have no regrets!

  1. Select stainless steel over chrome finishing on your furniture or kitchenware. Chrome corrodes and rusts so quickly in our humid Singapore climate. You may be lured in because chrome usually costs a lot lesser (sometimes even 50% of the cost), but it will not last you for more than a few years without rusting. But may we caution you that stainless steel CAN BE STAINED (don’t be fooled by the name), so do still keep it away from chemicals as much as possible. Well, just keep everything as dry as possible if you live in Singapore, heh.

  1. Vinyl flooring is such a breeze to clean and maintain! Also, we’ve had two friends tell us that when their child falls down on vinyl, they do not cry (but they do cry on tiled flooring) – this is because vinyl is softer in nature. Our tip is to get your contractor or ID to use the thickest vinyl boards (8mm or 10mm I believe) that’s of the best quality. If not, the corners of the vinyl may fray as the years go buy. Anyhow, vinyl is generally a lot cheaper than marble or tiled flooring, so it’s a great ‘starter-flooring’ for young married couples, who are dealing with the real financial pressures of living/working in Singapore.

Hope this helps!

We may add more tips as we discover them along the way. Tell us what you think. 🙂

Maintaining Our Minimalist Home.

Recently, a friend of ours brought up an interesting point on minimalism…

He asks, how do we maintain our minimalist home in the long-run? When people give us gifts and we can’t find a functional use for it in the house, do we just give it away?

These are probably questions that you may have as well and we’d like to do our best to answer it.

Maintaining a minimalist home:

  • Firstly, boy is it so much easier to clean than a cluttered home. On average, we take just 2-3 hours to finish doing a rough-clean of our entire house. This includes sanitizing door knobs, windows and cleaning our table-tops, chairs, toilets, sinks, and floor.
  • Secondly, a minimalistic house motivates us to take baby-steps in maintaining our home on a daily basis. This is why we need only 2-3 hours for the above point.
    • After showering daily, we squeegee our glass panels, walls and wet areas on the floor. This prevents soap scum and stains from building up. This means less scrubbing and harsh chemicals when it’s time for a deep toilet cleanse. Every little step goes a long way.
    • We do not allow for any moisture nor ponding of water on our kitchen tabletop. We see some droplets, we clean. This prevents staining and the growth of mold/mildew.
    • We keep our table top areas as bare as possible and our cleaning cloth nearby. This removes any inertia for wanting to keep the space airy and to minimize dust building up.
  • We are recently trying out a DIY all-purpose cleaner and it’s been working out well! (2 cups water + 1tsp dish soap + 10 drops of tea tree oil)
    • This saves us some money/space by using resources that we already have (tea tree oil is a great way to kill mold by the way)
    • It is more ecofriendly (you can reuse your squirt-bottles) and it doesn’t use harsh chemicals such as bleach (which we still use on tough stains)
    • We’ve used it so far for our counter-tops, kitchen wall tiles, the sink, water faucets and surface cleaning for the toilet-bowls.
    • Let us know if you’d like more details on this! 🙂

 

The next point is…

What do we do with gifts that we can’t find a use for?

We are broaching a pretty sensitive topic here because I mean hey, it “ain’t nice” to let the gifter know that you can’t find a use for his or her gift, right?

  • It took us awhile to see things in our current perspective, but we realized that true friends who want the best for us, would not make a big deal out of this. Of course, we do not openly share that we don’t have a need for their gift (basic general knowledge and EQ still applies).
  • When we get a gift that we have an abundance of or can’t find a use for, we’ll both think carefully if there’re anyone in our lives who may have a use for it at this present moment. Thereafter, we’d ask that person if they are open to receiving that item. If they say yes, we request for them not to openly say that it is from us. If not, we ask another person if they’d like the item, and so on…
  • Very rarely, for selected items, we may even sell it to someone who would find a use for it.
  • If we have friends who ask us what we’d like as a gift, we usually request for a token sum, a treat to a meal, or vouchers – this is definitely a win-win situation!
  • Ultimately, it is truly the thought that counts and for anyone who has ever gifted us anything, we are so thankful.

To some, this is pretty extreme? But for us, it has come to a point where ‘stuff’ matters less and we are clearer about the things we really love. Also, being self-professed clean (more of the husband) and neat (more of the wife) lovers, and being somewhat “OCD” in that – this lifestyle has become somewhat habitual to us for now.

We hope to keep this up simply because of its practical benefits. In the long-run, we see ourselves with less things to maintain and more time to maintain the things that matter and time to enjoy the things we love!

Would you take a step towards minimalism too?

Minimal…Breakfast & Coffee!

The colors orange, brown, yellow and green always seem to appear across our breakfast foods. 

Literally, breakfast needs to be quick, delicious, simple and somewhat healthy (maybe not). Not sure if you’d consider fatty bacon as healthy but it sure is yummy. Vegetarians, look away. 

Little squeeze of Japanese mayonnaise on butter-toasted bread. Mmmm…

Sunny-side up eggs are so good. And we love drizzling honey over freshly sliced bananas.

Sometimes with a side of green salad. This breakkie had the bacon and egg fried up together.

And as a Christmas gift, we got this starter-set for grinding and dripping coffee!


Fitting in perfectly on our counter top.


Oh yeah! 

Easy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You could say it is a minimalist recipe, or an easy one, or a lazy one – We just didn’t have an electric whisk on hand (yet) so the wife adapted a no-whisk recipe online, to make some chewy cookies for Christmas!

It has been many years since the wife had baked, and she has never baked in a built-in oven before. It was a dream come true. 🙂

Heat control and distribution is so much easier with this oven. The wife’s previous oven was one of those cheaper ones but it wasn’t true to temperature – so it took longer to get used to.

Here’re some photos and the recipe is below.

The second batch of cookies cooking up in the oven (we made around 8 batches in total that day!).


These were Reeses peanut-butter chips; got these to try and it was pretty good. They were all cooling on the tray. 


Chocolate meets peanut-butter cookies. Hi! 👋🏻


We passed most of them to friends and neighbors. We hope you’d enjoyed them!

This really brings back memories to when the wife was a food blogger. Good ol’ times. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the recipe that we’ve adapted ours from. 

Oven Temperature: 190˚C (preheat!)

Makes: 30-35 medium-sized cookies (We used 1 tbsp of dough per cookie)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 115 grams unsalted butter; softened in front of the preheating oven
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (extract: if you have the extra cash)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (sieved)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

 Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray(s) with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the two sugars. Be sure to break apart any hard chunks of brown sugar and get the two sugars fully mixed.
  • Mix the softened butter into the sugar in globs with a spoon and a fork. 
  • Mix in the eggs one at a time. Crack the eggs directly into the bowl with the butter-sugar mix, and then use your spoon to lightly beat the eggs before stirring them into the butter and sugar.
  • Measure and mix in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix the batter as much as possible right now. Break apart any remaining clumps and make sure the batter is a consistent color throughout.
  • Add the sieved flour in 2 portions. DO NOT over-mix to avoid forming too much gluten. Use the folding in method and stop mixing as soon as there is no more visible flour on the dough or in the bottom of the bowl.
  • Add the chocolate chips all at once and use a spatula in a folding motion to incorporate them into the batter.
  • Scoop the batter onto your baking sheet, spacing the balls of dough roughly 2 inches apart or more (these cookies spread a lot!) We made the dough balls about 1 tablespoon big.
  • Bake the cookies for 5-10 minutes in your preheated oven. Take them out when they look puffy, and are set and brown around the edges. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. As they cool, they will collapse back on themselves.
  • Transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling completely. Bake the rest of the cookies in batches. 

Have fun! Let us know if you’ve tried it out. 🙂